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Utility Questions


tyskee
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I have some questions concerning Utility Operations.

 

1. What is usually the schedule?

 

2. What do Utility Operators normally look for in a resume? Where to get that experience?

 

3. What are some good Utility Operators to work for and what could I do to increase my chances?

 

Background:

 

I have over 500+ hours of Ag time. No turbine time though. Always looking for ways to improve and just like every other pilot, make money and enjoy life.

 

Any info will be greatly appreciated thanks.

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Most utility ops require a min of 1500 pic helicopter (mostly a forest service requirement, but most utility want you available to fight fires if necessary). Along with that comes 100 turbine, 200 mountain, and generally about 100 hours longline to be proficient. If the utility is strictly fires, the longline can come down quite a bit, but for precision utility work, that 100 is the bare minimum from what I have seen.

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Im not a utility pilot, but Ill tell you the conversation I had just a week ago with a rather large utility operator ... My old partner flew for another large power line company when he left Law Enf flying and relayed the same view. He had about 25,000hrs and said a lot of the jobs really tested him and caused him to revaluate what was important in life! :D

 

I was actually looking for something part time...... No go on that, but it was still a good conversation.

 

1500hrs TT, 1000hrs turbine. MD500 and/or Jet Ranger experience. Wanted extensive mountain experience meaning....working in the MOUNTAINS , "Im really not interested in any Robbie time" (those were his words) meaning your 1500 needed to be working, not training or CFI R22 time.

Interview was demonstrating your ability to long line. He said generally the "interviews" are pretty short. It only takes about a .2 to know if someone can long line with a 100' line. If that went well, you continued on with some more difficult tasks. If they like what they saw, back to the hangar to talk over a cup of coffee. Brief company orientation if you were hired. Little bit of company training on the helo and jobs. And after that you were pretty much sent out to work with little to no supervision based on your level. It definitely wasnt a "training" position. They wanted pilots who could hit the ground running. Even if it wasn't power line work at 9000', you had to have something to offer that you could start being a contributing member of the team on day 1. Mostly 500E's, 530Fs, B206's and some AStars. Not to mention a bunch of 212's but I think that comes waaaaaaaaay later in your career!

 

They worked 21 days on 10 days off. As far as where to get that experience...... If you find that pot of gold I would suggest you keep it to yourself :D

 

Air 2

Haverfield

PJ helicopters

A&P Helicopters

Rogers Helicopters

 

Just to name a few. Im not speaking for the environment of any of the above. Just some places to start your search is all.

Edited by Flying Pig
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Not sure. I just see a couple of their 500s around and they do STABO and long line work for the state and they do power line work for SMUD. Sacramento Municipal Utility District. And I think they have a Jet Ranger and a UH1

 

This is one of their 500s

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=Y2Wj6f7xSa8

 

And people wonder why they cant get into utility with 1000hrs of R22 time! Ive STABO'd quite a bit (as the dope on the rope) that guy flying better know what hes doing because he has the ability to pickle you off if it goes bad!!!! And that parachute on the bottom of the helo (small black bag) we have one also....... yeah, good luck.

Edited by Flying Pig
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Im not a utility pilot, but Ill tell you the conversation I had just a week ago with a rather large utility operator ... My old partner flew for another large power line company when he left Law Enf flying and relayed the same view. He had about 25,000hrs and said a lot of the jobs really tested him and caused him to revaluate what was important in life! :D

 

I was actually looking for something part time...... No go on that, but it was still a good conversation.

 

1500hrs TT, 1000hrs turbine. MD500 and/or Jet Ranger experience. Wanted extensive mountain experience meaning....working in the MOUNTAINS , "Im really not interested in any Robbie time" (those were his words) meaning your 1500 needed to be working, not training or CFI R22 time.

Interview was demonstrating your ability to long line. He said generally the "interviews" are pretty short. It only takes about a .2 to know if someone can long line with a 100' line. If that went well, you continued on with some more difficult tasks. If they like what they saw, back to the hangar to talk over a cup of coffee. Brief company orientation if you were hired. Little bit of company training on the helo and jobs. And after that you were pretty much sent out to work with little to no supervision based on your level. It definitely wasnt a "training" position. They wanted pilots who could hit the ground running. Even if it wasn't power line work at 9000', you had to have something to offer that you could start being a contributing member of the team on day 1. Mostly 500E's, 530Fs, B206's and some AStars. Not to mention a bunch of 212's but I think that comes waaaaaaaaay later in your career!

 

They worked 21 days on 10 days off. As far as where to get that experience...... If you find that pot of gold I would suggest you keep it to yourself :D

 

Air 2

Haverfield

PJ helicopters

A&P Helicopters

Rogers Helicopters

 

Just to name a few. Im not speaking for the environment of any of the above. Just some places to start your search is all.

 

I would hope that the do more traning than that unless you have extensive powerline experince, not just external load...

 

Some of the other companies offer different schedules, like 4 weeks on 2 weeks off.

 

You missed Wilson Construction and Winco...

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Thats about it as far as those who specialize in powerline.

Haverfield, Air 2,Wilson, and Winco are the only ones that do powerline work exclusively save maybe one or two one horse operators like Steve and Ben.

Thre are a few that dabble.

Heli-lift, CBH, Northwest, etc...

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Does anyone know of any good, inexpensive schools that use light turbines to get longline skills? And if you can tell me, will these schools accept Veterans Education Benefits?

 

I think I heard of a school in California, not sure.

 

Are companies apt to acknowledge this effort enough to get your foot in their door?

 

Thanks for any help!

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You dont need to use a turbine to learn LL skills. I would find a place with a H300C. If you can do it in a 300..... a 500 is a cake walk. The fundamentals are the same. I would look at Civic Helicopters in Carlsbad or Western Helicopters in Rialto CA. Although I dont think Western is a 141. Most any flight school will teach you ANYTHING you want. I would find one that actually does this type of work too.

 

As far as the milage youll get from an employer...... that would be outta my pay grade to answer.

Edited by Flying Pig
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We look for a pilot to meet the FS requirements. Training somebody to fly long line who has never done it before can go a few ways.

 

1. They can be trained in 4-6 months of time

 

2. They cant learn it all all no matter how much time you train them.

 

3. They panic and get disoriented and then give up. (Seen it twice)

 

Some operators (bigger ones) have a scheduled, most smaller ones have none. We work when there is work to be done, and take days off whenever we can. I have been working everyday for 3 weeks, no biggie, you just got to love the lifestyle and not being able to plan things. Good luck.

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  • 3 weeks later...

OTJ (on the job). Operators aren't going to invest much more than single digit hours to train someone for longline. Everyone has to get experience somehow, and once you have some time and skill then you are marketable as a longline pilot. So find an operator that will give you some easy jobs first to get going. It took me three years to get about 150 hours longline time, but now I'm working for a company that is moving me up to 407's. I arrived carded, lots of mountain and northern time. The previous posts describe acurately what the general minimums are for utility work.

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I have about 15 or so LL. I just make it a point to start the day heading out the training area and practicing for an hour or so a day. DOesnt sound like a lot. But you can get farily decent in 10-15hrs. SO when I hear guys who want to dump $5000 on a long line course for 3-5hrs of training I sorta cringe........ Dont get me wrong..... I mean competent in certain missions, there are long line missions that I wouldnt even think about doing right now.

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